While I’ve not exactly been charitable regarding Rick Ankiel’s chemical history, I’m not about to wish the converted outfielder any ill will, either. The same, however, cannot be said of CBS Sports.com’s Gregg Doyel, who in what has to be a huge coincidence, is quite eager to trash Will Leitch’s favorite player. Noting that Ankiel is mired in a 2 for 29 slump since the PED revelations of September 7, Doyel claims the former pitcher “is taking the St. Louis Cardinals down with him.”
The same brain that ruined Ankiel’s golden left arm in 2000 is now taking aim on his silver bat. It’s like Ankiel’s head is a giant white blood cell that interprets the rest of his body as a germ, something to be devoured.
Ankiel’s self-cannibalization is fascinating to watch — his brain imposing a punishment that brainless baseball commissioner Bud Selig cannot. Unlike the first adversity, when Ankiel inexplicably lost the ability to throw strikes during the 2000 playoffs, this self-destruction is entirely of his own doing, a time bomb that has been ticking since 2004. That’s the year he reportedly purchased a 12-month supply of HGH, and while the Cardinals’ company line is that Ankiel was merely following his doctor’s orders, my company line is this: hahahahaha.
Asked if the HGH report had affected his play, Ankiel said, “I’d be fooling people to say no.”
Wrong, Rick. You’d be fooling nobody. Not with your track record of mental fragility.
This time it seems as if justice has been served. And it has been served by Ankiel’s own brain, which is incapable of overcoming adversity. Fans in Arizona took glee in his struggles, chanting “H-G-H” whenever Ankiel came to the plate. If there’s one thing baseball fans won’t tolerate — on the road, anyway — it’s a cheater.
Ankiel is single-handedly gutting the Cardinals’ postseason hopes — again. In 2000 there was that immortal October flameout that ended with the Cardinals getting no help from their stud lefty in a 4-1 NL Championship Series loss to the Mets. This season, the Cardinals have plummeted in September along with their stud right fielder. The team was on a 16-8 run before the HGH revelation, one game out of first in the NL Central. After that the Cardinals lost nine straight to fall seven games behind the Cubs and even 5½ behind second-place Milwaukee.
For the second time, the power of La Russa’s brain has been undermined by the weakness of Ankiel’s.
So in that sense, I suppose Ankiel is a feel-good story.
For the record, I am shedding few tears over the Cardinals’ recent fade from the NL Central race. And I share Doyel’s skepticism regarding the excuse that a prescription from Ankiel’s doctor makes HGH use legit (a doctor with questionable credentials, by the way). But there’s something a bit ironic about Gregg Doyel citing Ankiel’s mental fragility. This is the same columnist that wasted his Super Bowl on a manufactured feud with Will Leitch and proceeded to Google the email addresses of those who had the temerity to criticize him.
On more than one occasion, Ankiel has made it to his profession’s highest level. Clearly, he’s not always coped so well upon getting there. Contrast that with a smug, self-promoting boor who writes for the 5th or 6th most trafficked sports website and long ago lost the ability to distinguish between cheap heat and provoking genuine discussion.